It was my hope to present a few thoughts that might invite us to reflect upon our perceptions, point of view or lens in terms of how we view the students and team with whom we work. I’ve included the PDF file of my keynote slides for you here and some of the resources I referred to as well. Thank you so much for all that you do for our students and their families.
EA conf 2016 Opening Thoughts
The two student comparison slides are referenced to chapter 5 Rethinking Thinking Students – Presuming Competence in the book “The Paraprofessional’s Handbook for Effective Support in Inclusive Classrooms” This has previously be shared with your principals and copies of the book are available in your schools. Dr. Julie Causton has written a series of these books including one for administrators that every school has received as well. Well worth taking the time to read.
“Failure is not an option” video clip and book
I really do enjoy that orange “Failure is not an Option” shirt from the Johnson Space Center in Houston – the teacher who picked it up for me, may have had a tongue in cheek to begin with but proved to be an excellent leader for his department of 8 science teachers challenging them to retain 100% of their students through the semester and get everyone through. Adapt – Modify- Accommodate and collaborate he got it. The principles behind Failure is not an Option – the Book – are extremely aligned with the Professional Learning Community model – think about it in the movie and real life – is it really better to have people try to solve complex challenges in isolation? Nope – share, challenge, support… Whenever I watch this clip I ask myself which of these team members best represents me today – focused on excuses, roadblocks, reasons it will fail or focused on solutions, strengths, what I have on hand – I’m reminded of this positive mindset with the recent movie “The Martian” by the way – excellent for creative thinking and applied learning strategies.
The “R” Factor related slides are drawn from the book, “Above the Line: Lessons in leadership and life” by Urban Meyer , this may come to a surprise to some of you but that is a football book (I have been blessed to coach over 50 football teams in my life) but a book with so many outstanding lessons in terms of guiding our thoughts, words and responses and the six key “R-Factor” elements is one of those great points. The slide on “Reaches and Reps” draws from the same book – anyone who’s ever been on a team, or part of a play/acting, can or should be able to relate to pushing yourself to reach beyond what you thought you could and rep what you need to perfect. I remind myself it isn’t practice that makes perfect it’s working toward perfect practice that leads to perfection.
I am particularly fond of the notion of Bookending as presented by Chip and Dan Heath in their book Decisive: How to make better choices in life and work. The idea of planning the parade, particularly when you can engage the student and family in the planning of that parade really speaks to a vision for success and helps commit each other to working toward that achievement – fall a bit short, stumble a little along the way what should you do, I like to occasionally (emphasis added) listen to grade 5 and 6 band so that when I hear the award winning marching band I can remember the stumbles that led to the great parade. Bookending anticipates a little what could go sidewise reducing the shock and potential disappointment to a we anticipated this moment now let’s move along.
Finally a new book (to me) that I referred to briefly but did not have a slide in the presentation “Learning outside the lines” by Jonathan Mooney (the student I referred to) and David Cole. Jonathan writes, “Don’t feel bad. There is a special talent locked in the mind of the unusual learner. The trick is to unlock it. This book can help you do just that” well even if all it does is change our mindset and vision just a bit that can help but it’s proven quite good so far. A warning Jon and his family are fond of words in the English language that not everyone uses quite a liberally but like Ido sometimes expressing the frustration of what has been forced upon you and your children might lead to more colourful language than we might expect. Jon also wrote, “What has gone unrecognized for centuries is that this unusual learner is not stupid, neither is he bad. Indeed, he may be gifted. He carries within his mind the cognitive equivalents of genetic mutations, the ability to recombine elements of experience in new ways.” An interesting point to ponder.